Father Callan’s Commentary on Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7

To help provide context this post includes Fr. Callan’s summaries of Titus 2:1-15 and Titus 3:1-11.


A Summary of Titus 2:1-15~Here St. Paul tells Titus that the best way to correct the unwholesome teachings of the false guides in Crete will be to set before the people the simple positive doctrines of the Gospel as regards all classes, old and young of both sexes; and in doing all this Titus must show himself an example in doctrine and practice, so as to disarm adversaries. Even slaves and servants, by their obedience, honesty, and fidelity, may be an ornament in all respects to the doctrine of their God and Saviour (Titus 2:1-10). These teachings of the Gospel are entirely within the power of all to practise; for we have as helps the grace of God which has been manifested for the salvation of all mankind, and the glorious prospect of seeing hereafter the Saviour who gave Himself for us that He might free us from all sins and perfect us in every good work. Let Titus preach these things with all authority (Titus 2:11-15).

11. For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all men;

The Apostle now (ver. 11-14) gives reasons why Christians should observe the precepts he has been enjoining, namely, first, because the grace of God has appeared in the Incarnation of God’s only Son, “bringing salvation to all men” (ver. 11-12), and secondly, because by observing those precepts and living holy lives we prepare ourselves for the glorious coming of our Saviour (ver. 13-14).

The aorist “appeared” indicates the definite appearance of the Saviour at the time of His Incarnation. The adjective here translated “salvation” does not occur elsewhere, and it is to be connected with “all men.”

12. Instructing us that denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world,

The purpose of the Incarnation was to save us from our sins and to teach us the way to heaven.

That denying, etc. This phrase expresses the negative duties of the Christian life, while the following words, “we should live, etc.,” express the positive requirements of the same life. The words “soberly, justly, godly” embrace all our Christian obligations—to ourselves, to our neighbor, and to God.

13. Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Christ Jesus,

The practice of the holy life taught us by our Saviour carries with it the right and privilege on our part of looking forward one day to a glorious realization of our hope, that is, of seeing the blessed object of our hope, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Coming would be better translated “appearing,” and the absence of the article before it shows its close connection with “hope”; its Greek equivalent is found only in the Pastoral Letters and in 2 Thess 2:8, and it refers to our Lord’s Second Coming everywhere, except in 2 Tim 1:10, where it means His First Advent. Since, therefore, the word “appearing,” here as everywhere, is applied to our Lord and never to God the Father, and since there is only one preposition governing “great God” and “Saviour Jesus Christ,” it is next to certain that the Apostle in this verse is speaking only of our Lord, and not of God the Father and our Lord. That he should speak of our Lord as “the great God” is only to emphasize the glory of His coming. We have, therefore, in this verse an implied but solemn proof of the divinity of our Lord.

14. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a chosen people, zealous for good works.

Who gave himself, etc. See on Eph 5:2; 1 Tim 2:6.

Redeem, cleanse. These words express respectively the negative and positive aspects of the one process of sanctification.

From all iniquity. Literally, “from all lawlessness.”

A chosen people, i.e., a people who would be His own property or possession. This is the meaning of the Greek. The language here is from Psalm 130:8, Ex 19:5, Deut 6:6, 14:2, etc., where God’s choice and formation of Israel as His own people are in question.


A Summary of Titus 3:1-11~In this last section of his letter St. Paul gives Titus certain counsels which he is to set before all the faithful of Crete. They are to be obedient to authority, helpful to others, and considerate of outsiders, remembering their former sinful state out of which God’s pure mercy and grace delivered them, thus making them heirs of eternal life (ver. 1-7). Titus must insist that being a Christian carries with it the obligation of producing fruit in good works. Useless discussions are to be avoided, and those who persist in them are to be shunned (ver. 8-1 1).

4. But when the kindness and love for men of God our Saviour appeared,

Over against the malice and hatefulness of men (verse 3) St. Paul sets the kindness and love of God. We have revised the wording of the verse in accordance with the Greek, and the Vulgate should be likewise changed.

Concerning the malice and hatefulness of men see 1 Cor 6:9-11; Eph 2:1-3, 4:17-19, 5:8; Col 3:5-7; 1Pet 4:3.

God our Saviour is here applied to God the Father, as in 1 Tim 1:1. The goodness and love of the Eternal Father towards us have been manifested in the Incarnation of our Lord and in our justification.

5. Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost;

Before describing the works of God’s love in our behalf the Apostle affirms their absolute gratuitousness, stating that our justification and salvation are not due to any meritorious works done by us, whether in the state of nature or under the Mosaic Law, but only and entirely to the pure mercy of God (cf. Rom 3:20 ff.; 2 Tim 1:9; Eph 2:8-10); and the medium or instrumental cause
employed by Almighty God to confer on us the graces of justification and salvation is “the laver of regeneration and renovation,” i.e., the Sacrament of Baptism.

Of the Holy Ghost, to whom is attributed the work of our spiritual regeneration and renovation, as being a work of love. See on 2 Tim 1:9.

6. Whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour,

Since the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son by way of love, we attribute to Him works of love; but that our justification and salvation are in reality the work of the whole Divine Trinity is evident from this verse.

Whom means the Holy Ghost, of whom there has just been question; and “he” means God the Father, who is the subject of the whole sentence, God the Father in Baptism has abundantly poured into our souls the Holy Ghost, i.e., sanctifying grace and the other gifts of the Divine Spirit, which Jesus Christ by His sufferings and death has merited for us.

7. That, being justified by his grace, we might be heirs according to hope of life everlasting.

That indicates the final purpose of the justification we have received through the rich outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon our souls in Baptism, which is to make us “heirs of life everlasting.” This final and glorious issue of our spiritual lives we now possess in hope.

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One Response to Father Callan’s Commentary on Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year C | stjoeofoblog

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